For Cyrus Massoudi, a young Britishborn Iranian, the country his parents were forced to flee thirty years ago was a place wholly unknown to him. Wanting to make sense of his roots and piece together the divided, divisive and deeply contradictory puzzle that is contemporary Iran, he embarked on a series of journeys that spanned hundreds of miles and thousands of years through the many ebbs and flows of Iranian history. From the border with Turkey to that of Turkmenistan, from the Caspian basin down to the Persian Gulf, his journeys took him from the mythological first kings of Iran, to the Elamite kingdom, the eras of Cyrus and Darius, the glory of the Sasanians, the shock of the Islamic Arab conquests and the later Mongols, Safavids and on to Khomeini, Ahmadinejad and beyond. Rich portrayals of Sufis and ageing aristocrats, smugglers and underground rock bands are all woven together with history, religion and mythology to form a unique portrait of contemporary Iranian society. And, like a fragile thread running through the heart of the narrative lies Massoudi's poignant personal quest; his struggle echoing that of Iran itself, as it fights to forge a cohesive modern identity.
With its tensions of young against old, reformists against reactionaries and the computer against the Qur'an, it is a battle with global implications for a future that is poised so precariously between promise and ruin. Land of the Turquoise Mountains reveals a world beyond the propaganda-driven, media fuelled image of fractious, flag-burning fundamentalism, and provides a compelling glimpse both into the heart of a deeply misunderstood nation and into what it is to seek out and discover one's heritage.
Cyrus Massoudi was born in London. After completing his studies at Edinburgh University, he moved to Iran where he spent three years on a journey of self-discovery, travelling and researching this book. He now lives in London with his wife and daughter, working as a writer, screenwriter and translator. Land of the Turquoise Mountains is his first book.
'A fascinating insider-outsider view of a complex country we badly need to know more about. Writers like Cyrus Massoudi who illuminate our ignorance are vitally important as the West squares up for yet ill-considered intervention in the Muslim world.'
'This debut travelogue, written with a maturity that belies Massoudi’s relatively tender years, sheds much-needed light upon a land of contrasts and outright contradictions... essential reading for anyone seeking to understand one of the world’s most enigmatic nations'
Richard Tarrant, The Lady
‘takes the reader on an illuminating journey through Iran and its rich, turbulent history’
‘Adventurous... penetrating the ancient kingdoms, reaching every tribal redoubt, from the Kurds to the Turkomen, Massoudi reconstructs his own identity (that of a Brit of Iranian extraction) and challenges the stereotypes and conceits of what Iran means in the world today.’
Tom Adair, The Scotsman
‘The Land of the Turquoise Mountains reveals an ever-present tension between the traditional and the modern, the conservative and the progressive, the inward and outward. It’s these ongoing conflicts that inform the narrative.’
Esquire Middle East
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 30 Sep 2014
Number of Pages: 288
Illustrations: 16 colour illustrations in 8pp plates, 1 map